Thursday, June 22, 2006

Unicorn and Griff Peaks - 6/22/2006

On this day, starting from Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park, our team of nine Kitsap climbers set a lofty goal: bag three peaks, discover a potential route to the fourth peak, then return home before family and friends dared call 911. We accomplished these goals on this fine alpine scramble through a remote, seldom traveled portion of the National Park in about 11 hours.

To complete this adventure, the daunting tasks before us involved bushwacking across steep terrain, high and low ridge traverses, knee-buckling descents, thigh-burning step-kicking ascents, multiple rock ridge scrambles, one very exposed peak ascent (Unicorn Peak), one less exposed remote ascent (Griff Peak), and a warmup ascent of Hurricane Hill.

In the beginning, after hiking to the top of Hurricane Hill, we commenced our descent down a steep snow bowl into a ravine seperating us from Griff and Unicorn Peaks. Bridging this ravine was a low lying ridge, a ridge wildly plunging further into, then steeply ascending out of the ravine to abutt another ridge - this ridge rising to Griff Peak on the right, and to Unicorn Peak on the left.

While bushwhacking our way along these ridge traverses, we entered the nether-world of a fire-ravaged, old growth forrest on its way to recovery (new growth readily apparent, re-populated with wildlife). Within this bleak forrest, I sighted at least two Grouse, one deploying the old broken wing trick to lead our party away from her young.

After crossing the ravine and bagging Griff Peak, we proceeded to traverse the adjoining ridge to Unicorn Peak, edging our way along steep scree fields and boulder hopping along the rocky ridge. Ascending the steep rock face which is Unicorn Peak, we finally gained views of a possible route to the fourth peak, Unicorn Horn, via a ridge leading from the base of Unicorn Peak to the base of the Horn.

How do you ascend the Horn from its base? Well, I think that is still an open question. It may be climbable as a class 3 scramble, but group concensus was it looks like at least a class 4 rock climb. No one in our party personally knew anyone with an ascent of the Horn to date.

God bless my short memory (for pain and suffering), I already want to return for a summit attempt of the Horn and to bag that Pinnacle rising from the deep canyon seperating Unicorn Peak from Unicorn Horn.

The trip pictures below portray a portion of the route traveled, beginning at Hurricane Hill, and ending with the summit of Unicorn Peak and views of Unicorn Horn.

Note on picture size: Click on picture for LARGER view. In the LARGER view, an orange button will appear in the lower right corner. Click on the ORANGE BUTTON for a Full Screen View.

Hurricane Hill - Pointing Toward Griff Peak Posted by Picasa

Snow Bowl Descent From Hurricane Hill Posted by Picasa

Ridge Leading To Griff Peak Posted by Picasa

Ridge Leading To Griff Peak (Closeup) Posted by Picasa

Unicorn Peak/Horn (Left) and Griff Peak (Right) Posted by Picasa

Fire Damaged Forrest Posted by Picasa

Ridge to Unicorn Peak and Horn Posted by Picasa

Unicorn Peak (Left) and Unicorn Horn (Right) Posted by Picasa

Unicorn Peak (Closeup) Posted by Picasa

Climbing Unicorn Peak Posted by Picasa

Paul on Summit of Unicorn Peak Posted by Picasa

View From Unicorn Peak Posted by Picasa

View From Unicorn Peak2 Posted by Picasa

Rock Pinnacle Below Unicorn Peak2 Posted by Picasa

Unicorn Horn Posted by Picasa

Ridge To Unicorn Horn (Center-Right) Posted by Picasa

Mount Angeles As Seen From Unicorn Peak Posted by Picasa

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Mount Angeles Mountain Goats - 6/17/2006

Today our party of seven scrambled to the top of Mount Angeles(6454 feet), experiencing a complete set of wintery conditions; mist, grauple (hail), snow, and a little mixed sleet/ rain.

To our complete surprise, our climbing party attracted two uninvited guests who accompanied us along most of the rocky ridge scramble - they were Olympic Mountain goats, complete with horns and an onery, territorial, challenging attitude.

At times the goats blocked our climbing route and clearly challenged us, snorting and lowering their horns, ready to ram us rather than run. Patiently, we engaged in stare-downs, then slowly worked our way around the wild creatures.

Soon, the goats were shadowing us up the steep scramble, performing gravity defying jumps between ridge boulders with the greatest of ease. It was very entertaining and I believe the highlight of our trip.

From the Mount Angeles summit, visibility was poor as we were enveloped in the whiteness of a very dense fog. It was snowing on the summit, but there was almost no wind so we had that to be thankful for.

Since the highlight of this trip was our encounter with the mountain goats, you will find their likeness in the pictures below taken at nearly every stage of our scramble to the summit.

Note on picture size: Click on picture for LARGER view.

Mountain Goat - Initial Encounter Posted by Picasa

Mountain Goat - He looks courious Posted by Picasa

Mountain Goat Trick #1 Posted by Picasa

Mountain Goat with Attitude Posted by Picasa

Our Constant Companions Posted by Picasa

What a Team! Posted by Picasa

Mountain Goat Trick #2 Posted by Picasa

Mountain Goat Trick #3 Posted by Picasa

Human Mountain Goats Posted by Picasa

Mount Angeles Summit Posted by Picasa